Reflection in mirror of demography
By Yelena Prusova
According to 2009 National Statistical Committee census data, about 140 nationalities permanently live in Belarus, with almost 84 percent of the country’s residents viewing themselves as Belarusian. Meanwhile, 8.3 percent say they are Russian, 3.1 percent say Polish and 1.7 percent say Ukrainian. The top ten most numerous categories include those who see themselves as Jewish, Armenian, Tatar, Gypsy, Azerbaijani and Lithuanian, with each group boasting 0.1 percent of the total population.
The 2009 census has provided a detailed overview of the nationalities residing in Belarus, with replies recording respondents’ self-defined words. The nationality of children was determined by their parents. The census allowed nationality and ethnic group to be recorded: those generally recognised and those invented independently.
According to the National Statistical Committee, since the last census in 1999, the number of people in the most numerous nationalities has fallen, as it has countrywide. There are 2.2-fold fewer Jewish people, while the number of Ukrainians and Russians has fallen by a third each and there are 29 percent fewer Hebrews. Specialists believe the trend reflects natural migration.
Simultaneously, migration has led to a growing number of representatives of other nationalities. Since 1999, the number of Chinese living permanently in Belarus has risen almost 20-fold. In fact, 2.7 times more Arabs are registered and the number of Turkmen has risen 2.3-fold. The share of other nationalities remains insignificant.
The national composition of the population in some regions differs from that seen across the republic. In the Brest and Minsk regions, the fifth most numerous nationality is Armenian (rather than Jewish). In the Gomel region, Hebrews are the fourth most popular nationality, with Poles shifting to sixth position. In the Grodno region, 67 percent are registered as Belarusian and 22 percent as Poles, with Lithuanians closing the top five (0.2 percent).